Dec 4, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Industries' latest climate shift

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There's fresh evidence that powerful industries are slowly shifting on climate change to keep up with the times and protect their interests.

Driving the news: The Natural Gas Supply Association on Tuesday said it backs carbon pricing — a message partly aimed at states crafting emissions-cutting plans.

  • CEO Dena Wiggins predicted they'll have company. "We believe we are the first national natural gas trade association to support paying a price on carbon, but we are likely not going to be the last," she told reporters.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of powerful industries and groups starting to alter their posture.

  • Exxon, Chevron, BP and subsidiaries of Equinor, Shell and Total are all members, alongside independent players like EQT Corp., and Cabot.
  • A number of oil majors — including Shell, BP and others — already support pricing.

Where it stands: NGSA doesn't have plans to lobby Congress on the matter, Wiggins said.

  • The group released a set of broadly worded "principles." They don't signal a preference for taxes versus emissions-trading.
  • NGSA favors a national program, but says that as states move forward, they should price carbon in power markets and work together.

How it works: The group's principles for states argue that pricing should replace emissions regulations.

  • That's consistent with what several oil-and-gas giants want in return for a national carbon tax plan, via their membership in the Climate Leadership Council.
  • Tuesday's outline opposes "subsidies" and policies that "distort" markets — likely a reference to NGSA's ongoing fight against state subsidies for nuclear plants.

The big picture: A carbon price, depending on where it's set, could help the fuel shove coal aside even faster, though Wiggins said their position is not about members' bottom lines.

Go deeper: Once a critic, Chamber of Commerce now backs Paris Climate Agreement

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